Let's register your business name.

Yes, it's finally time to register your business name. I hope that by now you have two or three potential business names in mind. If you still need a little help with naming your business, click here for help choosing your business name.

Find an available domain name

I recommend doing this before you really fall in love with and register a business name. You need to check the availability of your business name as a domain name.

Finding an available name that you like can be really hard. That's because so many names are already taken. If the name you want is unavailable, it may be because someone is already using the name,

Or it could be that someone has bought the business name hoping to it sell it later. Either means "tough-luck, start-over” for you. Unless you have some serious money to spend, you're much better off going back and re-thinking your name.

Some books say that having your domain and (real world) business names match isn't necessary. I disagree. I was in that situation before, and was a real pain!

If you can use the same name for your business online and off, you should. That's part of how you'll brand yourself with a memorable business identity. Don't confuse your customers by using different names in different places... be consistent.

You can try using different suffixes with your business name if "your-name".com is taken. There are lots of new suffixes available. Personally, I like dot-com, net, or biz. Opinions vary about what's best. In the end it's your personal choice.

If the name you like is available, it's good "business insurance" to purchase several different suffixes. This ensures that no one can easily copy your website. This will cost you more money upfront when you're registering the business name, but it may be money well spent.

Choose a domain name registrar

Speaking of choices, you also need to decide what company you'll use to research & register your domain name with. There's a lot of domain name registrar companies online.

I use Godaddy for all my domain registrations, except for here on the Hungry Entrepreneur, which Site-Build-It registered for me. SBI is awesome, but I've been very happy with Godaddy too. I trust them, and that's unusual... my kids think I'm the "Queen" of internet paranoia.

Remember what I said about Google searches for the name you're considering? I never do those. If I'm researching for availability of a domain name, I only do my searches within the Godaddy website.

Do some research for yourself before you commit to which domain registration site to use. You shouldn't be paying over about $20.00 to register each name for a year... that's more than I pay at Godaddy. Start thinking like a smart and frugal entrepreneur!

Once you've found a business name AND domain name that's available, and you're happy with one name, you're ready to register that business name.

If you're still undecided between two names, consider buying both domain names. That will give you have more time to think about which name you like better. There's nothing worse than going back to get the other name and finding that it's unavailable now.

Research your business name (DBA) availability

The next thing you'll need to do is to find out how to register a business name with the government. That includes the federal, state, and maybe other local governments too.

If you're not in the US, check your own government's website for help. This needs to be done even if you're an online business. Why? Taxes, of course!

I was going to write a wonderfully comprehensive step-by-step guide for this step. Guess what? The US government has beaten me to it. Great, I like to see my tax dollars working on something I use, for a change! AND they did a great job on the website.

Click here to see how to register your business name with the government. You'll be taken to a US government website. Plan to take your time reading the information. Follow their links. You'll find the info you need here.

You may be able to do a search online to see if the name you want to use available. I've found that your legal business name is more likely to be available locally than as an internet domain name.

When you're finished with your research, be sure to thank your Uncle Sam! But you're not quite ready to do any paperwork so don't register your business name yet. Bookmark the sites you need and come back here. I'll wait for you!

NOW it's time to register domain name.

Get your credit card ready, go back to your prefered domain registration site. You're finally ready to claim your business domain name. Follow their steps, and you're done!

When do you register your business name (DBA) with the government? Do it next. Or as soon as you're able to. Don't wait too long.

In the US, you can't open any business bank accounts without your DBA (legal business name) and a chosen business entity. And until you have a bank account to receive money into (and spend money from) you're not really open for business. So register your legal business name as soon as possible.

Once you've registered your business name with the government and you own your domain name, the clock is ticking. It's real... you're a business owner. Congratulations!

Look at your business plan and your starting your own business checklist. Each step you complete gets you closer to your goals

What? Still avoiding writing a business plan? You NEED ONE! Sorry, didn't mean to shout. But really... it's not that hard. And you're more likely to be successful with a business plan to follow. Use pen and paper, your computer, chisel & stone... just sit down and get started. Click here for an easy business plan outline. It's not fancy but it's a start. And remember, "Well begun is half done!" Enjoy your business adventure... good luck!

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